326th G-View: Alice & Zoroku

I did plan on checking this show out but after fans highly recommended I give the show a go ASAP I bumped it up ahead of schedule…The following anime is a very peculiar one due to the fact that its appeal can and cannot be properly be explained at the same time but I will do my best as we take a look at Alice & Zoroku.

alice-zoroku.jpg

WARNING! Episode 1 features CG cars that will make “Anti-Anime CG” viewers feel nauseous. Worry not though as the cars in later episodes are less stomach churning.

Genres: Slice of Life, Action, Drama, Psychological, Supernatural, Science-Fiction

Themes: Superpowers

Number of Episodes: 12 (Episode 1 is 40+ minutes. The rest are the regular 20+)

G-Rating: 8/10

Plot Summary: A group of young girls possess a mysterious power known as “Alice’s Dream,” which gives them the ability to turn their thoughts into reality. Detained and experimented upon, these youths are locked away in secret until one of them manages to escape. Her name is Sana—a girl with the power to ignore the very laws of physics. When this willful powerhouse crosses paths with a stubborn old man named Zouroku, his carefully-ordered life will never be the same again.

There are two important things people need to understand before picking this show up:

  1. The first and the second half of the show vary drastically in tone.
  2. One of the show’s main protagonists is a sheltered girl who knows very little about the outside world and IS PRONE to throwing temper tantrums, yet still manages to be likable, but again she is bratty.
Zoroku and Sana.png

Top stars of the show, Zoroku and Sana.

Let us discuss the first part of the two above warnings. See, the show’s first half has  an action-drama piece where it does not often take a break. The chill moments are far and few, maybe one episode is more lax than the others. Zoroku and Sana must overcome one challenge after another from their calculated and relentless pursuers who consist of emotionally unstable employees…especially one in particular who gives our heroes a VERY ROUGH time. In short the first half is a mostly action-packed thrill ride with some lighthearted stuff but mostly heart-pounding moments and a cool battle or two.

Puffy Sana.jpg

Puffy Sana alongside Sanae.

The second half is for the most part the daily life of a girl with superpowers and the people around her. Emphasis on the superpowers part because as life teaches everyone, one can never let their guard down. Despite this however, the tone is considerably calmer for the majority of it. That is before the “final boss” makes an appearance, but…labeling this person as the “final boss” is a stretch. Let us just say it is a much different kind of climax than people are used to.

Now despite the show’s two halves having drastically different tones neither takes away from the main theme of the story, a sheltered little girl with next to nil knowledge of the outside world learning what it means to exist, contemplating her existence and purpose for being, and trying to adapt to the outside world and the people around her, both naughty and nice and develop/improve her social skills with the help of Zoroku, his granddaughter Sanae and a few others. Also through Sana everyone around her also learns stuff about themselves and those around them. Life, the purpose for being and other important questions regarding existence are brought up numerous times throughout the show’s run, all from the perspective of a sheltered girl with superpowers, the “Dreams of Alice” and a few others who also have “Dreams of Alice” within them. There is a point in the story where this is discussed in great detail.

Having discussed the narrative, theme and tone let us go over the pacing. For the most part it is handled well, however, the first half of the show in particular does feature some characters that are never seen again. Some of them understandable but others, one particular person with “Dreams of Alice” is relegated to either “manga lure” or “maybe in the 2nd season, if there is one”. Others who saw the show will know who I am referring to. There are also some issues with how the first half ended, mainly its conclusion that felt very convenient. The second half is handled much better with its calmer pacing with serious issues. The climax though is, again, unconventional in a good way because it stays true to the main theme.

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Hinagiri Twins.

As mentioned above the second half is more lax than the first and is also where the heavier focus on Sana adapting to the world occurs and also where she has enough time to contemplate important questions regarding her very being together with friends and family. This going on till the climax, which as I said before is not what a casual viewer would expect.

Dream of Alice sign.jpg

The animation is nice and pretty (CG cars in episode 1 notwithstanding). The superpowers being referred to as “Dreams of Alice” obviously refers to Alice in Wonderland so expect some delightfully trippy stuff. Peeps who saw and enjoyed Flip Flappers will feel right at home. Speaking of Flip Flappers the overall soundtrack does its job but the OP and ED are excellent, especially the ED that gives off “Flip Flap Flip Flap” vibes. Well it is sung by the same person and group so yeah.

The cast features likable people alongside Sana and jerks who are not one-dimensional (at least the ones we get to see more than 3 minutes total screen time of but those characters are not important). Zoroku is a grumpy late-50’s to mid-60’s man who is rough around the edges and does not show mercy to evildoers or troublemakers but is a very kind, caring and understanding guy deep down. Sanae is his adorable granddaughter who has a weakness for cuteness, especially Sana. Then there are other allies such as Ichijo and her trusty fangirl hacker. The Hinagiri Twins are also nice.

Then we have Sana herself. As mentioned above she is a bratty girl who lived a sheltered life for a very long time being experimented on so yes, she will need all the help she can get to adapt to the outside world. Aside from her temper tantrums and feeling “frazzled” from time to time she is a very believable energetic little girl who just needs kindness, love, nurturing and guidance to learn and grow up to be a respectable woman. She is also adorable, provided the viewer can put up with her naughtiness.

As far as yuri on the show goes Sana and Sanae give off strong vibes and the big climax also features a duo with major vibes. Oh and of course there is the fangirl hacker gushing over Ichijou’s sexiness and badassery. Rightfully so.

Overall Alice & Zoroku is not at all what I expected, in a good way. It ended up being something extra special with lots of interesting dialogue, enjoyable slice of life stuff, intense action and drama in the first half and a very neat cast for the most part. Frequenters of this blog will have little trouble adjusting to the SoL elements but even readers who are not SoL fans may find something to enjoy with the show’s drama and conversation pieces…provided they can tolerate Sana. I personally am glad I bumped this up on my schedule. Pretty good stuff.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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12 Responses to 326th G-View: Alice & Zoroku

  1. cirno9fan says:

    “As for yuri…at most we get that from the fangirl hacker. Other ships are crack ships at best though perhaps one duo in particular can be imagined as growing up to become much more.”
    What even? Those two were way beyond “can be imagined”. Are you really discounting the level of yuri just because they’re young?

    And the twins! How is that “crack”???

    Sanae shows much affection towards Sana, and has tendencies that make out the possibility she may have lolicon inside of her, and Sana shows a lot of affection back. I could see them as the “Might grow into something more when they’re older” category much more than Haa-chan and Ayumu(?) who were just as yuri as many of the “couples” that people herald as canon in the fandom.

    As for the show itself, it felt pretty similar in tone throughout for me. Didn’t feel much a disconnect. The first half had plenty of slice of life moments. Yeah, the second half had less “action” in terms of fast paced action. But it had just as serious “fights”, and the action was still very much there. Just, it was more psychological in nature. It’s not like Sana was just having fun and happy times while everyone in the city was frozen…

    Easily was my anime of the season. Hinako note mad ea good Showing, but failed to deliver in the final episode. And Frame Arms Girl was a solid contender, but lacked that extra impact that Alice provided. Lots of fun, but not as much of an emotional investment. Which is something very important to me for a AotS contender.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OG-Man says:

      Fine. I’ll update the review accordingly. I won’t change the twins because I only saw them give off sisterly love vibes like Dia and Ruby. Sana and Sanae, along with the other duo have future potential.

      Both halves are different in pacing but the main theme stays the same, especially in the serious moments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. LiteraryOtakuGamerGirlT says:

    Wow, didn’t expect you to watch it so quickly. I’m impressed, but then again, didn’t really expect anything less. This show was something special and absolutely different than even I had expected going into it. The premise sounded cute and seemed to promise a touching SoL similar to that Usagi Drop and Sweetness and lightening and it did in some ways, but it also got much darker than I expected in the first half. However, I think that boosted my enjoyment of it even more because of the contrast between the darker, supernatural subplot and the main SoL, heartwarming plot of Sana and Zoroku as a family with Sanae. As was the case with Kobayashi, the family moments were my favorite parts of the show. I didn’t find the plot disconnected though, because I saw it as the first half as a metaphor for the darker, less refined Sana who hadn’t learned how to be human and then the second half focused on her development into a moral and compassionate human as she learned how to really live as a child and the series basically transitioned along with her. I loved the Alice and Wonderland tie-ins also and Wonderland certainly did remind me of Flip Flappers, which was an enjoyable aspect.

    As far as shipping goes, I don’t think I can see the ship in Sanae and Sana. I got the feeling more so of a big-little sister bond than anything else, but I also won’t deny those who ship them the right to do so as I do see the vibes. I think I just personally prefer the more platonic, sisterly bond with them. The twins perhaps could develop into a viable ship in time, but I’m also not certain on that one. However, I’m absolutely sold on the Ayumi and Katori ship, as I thought that had pretty strong vibes. I really like how Ayumi seems to be a tomboy, perhaps even bordering transgender as I’ve seen others suggest. I really liked them together and if any ship might be considered canon in this show, I’d suggest they are the best bet. Finally, I saw the potential for a ship between Yamada (hacker girl) and Ichijou and thus, I ship them personally, but again, I guess there is a fine line between love and admiration, so I can’t say it’s certain. That’s the beauty of shipping though, it’s all very subjective, so I say to everyone with various ships, ship away in merriment.

    All in all though, definitely one of my favs of the season and Ichijou is my favorite character by far. She’s so cool. =) I’m really glad you enjoyed the show though and thanks for your coverage. I’m grateful as always for you dedication.

    Liked by 3 people

    • OG-Man says:

      This is why I said the two halves may be very different in tone for the most part but the main theme of Sana’s developing emotions in society through good times and bad remained intact for the entirety of the show.

      I initially wrote crack ships as cirono9fan called me out for so I changed it to potential ships with of course Ayumi and Hatori having the strongest potential. You’re right about the fangirl hacker and Ichijou also having potential. The fangirl’s admiration could be far more than that certainly.

      Thanks to you and others for convincing me to giving this show a go. It was a very welcome surprise and possibly the hidden gem of Spring 2017.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Darks0ulreaper says:

    Hatori x Ayumu is definitely my OTP for this series, I normally go with the twincest ship if there is one (and there definitely is), but Hatori x Ayumu really won the show for me, Sana x Sanae is also great, and so is Ichijo x Yamada, honestly, they’re all great in my humble opinion, just to differing degrees.

    My top 4 from best to worst would have to be: Hatori x Ayumu, Ichijo x Yamada, Asahi x Yonaga (really wish we got more screentime from them; if they did, their place on the list would probably be a bit higher), and Sana x Sanae.

    I really didn’t see as much potential in Sana x Sanae as I did from the others, to be honest; I don’t think Sanae would cross that line for a long time to come, even then I think she would be hesitant, and I don’t really see Sana being interested in romance for an equally long period, that being said, the potential is still there, it is with every ship this time around, but it’s definitely not as prevalent.

    Ichijo x Yamada and Asahi x Yonaga are really somewhat tied in my opinion, but I think I like Ichijo x Yamada slightly better, mostly because there’s just more there in general, seeing as Yamada’s feelings for Ichijo are more or less canon, going from there, it’s just a matter of time until Ichijo gives in to her adorable and slightly creepy kouhai; I think Asahi x Yonaga would’ve ranked higher if they had more yuri-esq content or if their existing content had more Yuri vibes, that said, the yuri vibes that they did have carried with them some great potential and I’d be interested to see where it goes.

    The other ships really are overshadowed somewhat by Hatori x Ayumu, though; their relationship goes beyond potential, it might as well be canon at this point, there’s already so much affection and understanding between both of them, paired with Ayumu’s boyish yet tenderly caring attitude and Hatori’s desire to be loved, I can’t see it ending in any way other than romance.

    Overall, this anime was a bountiful harvest, and I’m certainly hoping for a second season that may or may not contain even more jewels for us dedicated yuri farmers to reap.

    Oh yeah, the soundtrack, art, writing, and animation (nevermind the cars) were good too, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OG-Man says:

      Didn’t see much twincest potential myself. The other three definitely and as you and the Doc said Sana X Sanae is the weakest since, like the twins they’re more like caring sisters than future lovers but ya never know.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Otaku Judge says:

    Makes me think of Brynhildr. Why can’t organizations leave super powered girls alone?

    Surprised to hear that the CG cars look bad. Vehicles tend to be one of the few things that look okay when done in CG.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OG-Man says:

      Because they’re bastards who claim their actions are for “the greater good” but don’t care about who has to suffer to reach their goal.

      Don’t worry. They only pop up in episode 1.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marina says:

    This poor show really did get bashed too much after its opening car chase, and I think a lot of people ended up dropping it because of the CGI. I’m glad I stuck around a couple more episodes before making my decision, because I did enjoy the series quite a bit more than expected, particularly (as we discussed) Zouroku’s character.

    One of the characters I felt was unfortunately underdeveloped was Minnie C. She received a fair amount of backstory explaining how she became the way she is, but very little was shown afterward of whether or not she was likely to heal or would continue on the same destructive path. With only 12 episodes, they didn’t have much time to close out her character…but, still. It made me a little sad that she was so one-note.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OG-Man says:

      Indeed. Pity it got overlooked for such a silly reason. That’s why to me animation isn’t the deciding factor on whether a show is good or not. A show can have subpar animation yet still be very entertaining. Unfortunately many people don’t see it that way. Oh well.

      Yes. Zoroku is an awesome grandpa.

      Ah yes, the crazy waifu. I too would love to have seen more from her. She made a great heel and had a decent tragic backstory. Plus how often do we get grieving widows as antagonists?

      Like

  6. Definitely one of my favorites of the season. Loved almost all of it (excluding CGI cars, I guess). And the surprise of getting Hatori x Ayumu in the latter half was certainly more than a welcome one.

    Like

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